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Thank An Educator

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Becoming an educator is the decision to take on a huge responsibility of being accountable for spreading knowledge to one’s students. The process of becoming an educator doesn’t begin or end with formal education, it begins with being a student inspired enough to want to replicate the quality of learning seen in a good teacher. 

This Teacher’s Appreciation Week both high school students, and our PBS Digital Innovator All-Stars and Early Learning Champions are honoring and reflecting on inspirational educators using StoryCorps “Thank An Educator” prompt: “Was there a teacher who had a particularly strong influence on your life? What did you learn from them?” 

Good educators create teachers in the making, and other excellent educators. Being a student taught by someone inspiring and motivational enough to want to be replicated creates a better world for all. By educating our youth and creating better educators for generations to come. 

We have all been inspired or motivated by an educator at one or multiple points in our lives. Be a part of Thank An Educator and use StoryCorps' self-directed recording tools to record a story with - or about - the impactful educators in your life. These moments of gratitude will be archived in the Library of Congress.

“The teachers who influenced me the most were those who challenged me the most. They showed me that the learning process cannot be easy. It requires perseverance, and it results in exhilarating satisfaction. The satisfaction and pride that comes with overcoming a seemingly impossible challenge is what I wish for my students in their academic journey.”  

          - Mariana Athayde

“Mr. Harris, my high school homeroom and science teacher, taught us a lot about life skills. He was full of wisdom, and he used to say to me quite frequently, “Ms. Murphy, you can be anything you want to be if you put your mind to it.” What I learned from him is to not only teach the curriculum but to also instill confidence and hope in students.”

          - Sharon Clark

"Mr. Conway was my fourth-grade teacher. He taught me that individuality should be celebrated, and that school could be a magical place for exploration and expression.”

          - Felicia Gray

“I believe that teaching is the gift of sharing and caring and not a talent. I was told as a young girl growing up in a Baptist church by many of my Sunday school and vacation bible school teachers that I had the gift of teaching. I didn’t understand until later in life that my gift of pouring into young learners is what I did best without any training. As I continued to grow in my craft I began exploring ways to educate and develop my students with the late Mrs. Mary Harding. Mrs. Mary taught me to meet and teach my students where they were, take the hand and their mind and guide them through the pathways of learning.”
          - Dee Liggens

“My 3rd-grade teacher, Mrs. Bommer, had a strong influence on my life. No matter what I had going on at home she was there to listen and encourage me. She would often let me play in her hair at the end of the day. It made my day. She believed in me. I learned that oftentimes as educators, our agendas are not as important as pouring hope, love, and care to others (students). That message is my mantra for serving our students, families, and community. Mrs. Bommer met me where I was, and I use that same approach today!” 

          - Kristen Valley

“During my sophomore year, my Algebra 2 teacher quickly became like a mother to me. She was much more than a math teacher, she has guided me through both high school and my life thus far. She's taught me about relationships, self-care, and what it means to be an African-American woman and how important my place in this world is. Because of her I now know my worth, and know how to have and maintain a higher self-esteem. Not a day went by when I sat in her class and I didn’t receive some sort of life lesson or piece of advice. She is a strong influence on me and other students and I truly do appreciate everything she has done for me.”

          - Ashlyn Williams 

“Throughout my time in high school one of the teachers that had a strong influence on me was my journalism teacher, Mr. Robb. In his class I was exposed to several different creative pathways, with some that I didn’t even know existed! All of his classes were centered around being creative, and getting your work out into the world for others to see. What I learned about teaching from him was that the most effective way to do it is to provide a welcoming environment for all students, regardless of what their interests are, whether that’s in graphic design, art, music, photography, and more. This helps to create a supportive environment, where students can collaborate and get invested in each other’s projects, which made school all around a more interesting place to be."

          - Steven Marichal

“My 8th grade English teacher left a huge mark on my perception of others. I knew I would enjoy her class and learning from her after meeting her on the first day. I admired the way she spoke and the way she carried herself. She accepted everyone no matter what. She taught me not to judge anyone based on the way they’ve presented themselves, the way they speak, or the way they are dressed. She helped me understand that most times there’s always something deeper going on with people that not everyone can see. Someone can have the nicest clothes and shoes, but regardless of what someone has or doesn’t have we’re all still human. I now try to carry myself as she does herself and keep the mindset she instilled in me when I view others.” 

          - Mi’Asia McWilliams

“Last year my Journalism teacher had a particularly strong influence on my life. Last year, for one of my first Journalism assignments, I had to choose a person who I knew and write a feature story on them. I chose my French teacher, Madame Faz because she has a reputation for being the best-dressed teacher and her French classes are among the most popular classes at my school to take! Upon reading my feature story about Madame Faz, he decided it had to be one of the stories to be in the first issue of the Panther Prowler, the school newspaper. Over time, I wrote stories as assignments for my journalism class and two or three of those stories made it into the Panther Prowler. He saw so much potential in me that not only did he submit my first feature story in his Journalism class that I wrote to the Texas Association of Journalism Educators (TAJE) contest, he also encouraged me to compete in UIL in some of the Journalism categories, and submit a story about my life during the quarantine period during the Coronavirus Pandemic to the Pflugerville Pflag and the Austin-American Statesman! This year, he encouraged me to compete in UIL again where I made it to regionals in Current Events and to submit my opinion-editorial story on sleep deprivation to the New York Times contest for middle and high school students! I have learned from my journalism, and now newspaper teacher, that teaching students involves instilling confidence in them, recognizing potential, and helping them to grow into what they could be.” 

          - Rachel Calabuig

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